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Displaying items by tag: Lough Ree Yacht Club

Reigning all Ireland Junior sailing champion Chris Bateman swapped his local waters of Cork Harbour for Lough Ree Yacht Club's 'Double Ree' double-handed dinghy regatta last weekend and provides this report for Afloat

On the last weekend of August 2020, Lough Ree Yacht Club held their renowned “Double Ree” sailing event. First held in 2018 and designed for the double-handed dinghy enthusiast, this event was immensely successful. That success was repeated this year, on the 29/30th of August.

On Friday afternoon, Lough Ree Yacht Club opened their gates to groups of enthusiastic competitors. With a pandemic looming overhead, masks were donned and one way systems were followed. These simple things became second nature and by the evening, tents were spread out across the fields surrounding the 250-year-old yacht club.

Lough Ree Yacht Club's Committee Boat heads out on the lake to start racing in its 2020 Double Ree RegattaLough Ree Yacht Club's Committee Boat heads out on the lake to start racing in its 2020 Double Ree Regatta

Three fleets of double handers were expected this year, which meant that each arriving car carried a different boat on its roof. The cars and trailers were hastily unloaded and each dinghy was put with its own fleet, each fleet having been allocated a corner of the dinghy park. This left fifteen 420s, fourteen Mirrors, and thirteen 29ers sitting at the lakeside.

Registration was completed in a controlled manner as darkness fell over the happy campers, all waiting in anticipation for the next day.

Saturday, the first race day came around. The sailors awoke to the unique sound of the lake water lapping against the shoreline. A low sun hovered over Lough Ree, revealing a cascade of white water, churned up by a twenty-knot northerly wind. With a start scheduled for 12:00 pm, the competitors lost no time rigging up their boats despite the cold temperature. Each sail was hoisted eagerly and the scene became loud as the sails flogged in the high wind.

Fourteen Mirrors contested Double Ree RegattaFourteen Mirrors contested Double Ree Regatta

The Mirror fleet launched first, braving the harsh conditions as each sailed out one by one. Even among their own fleet, the variation between boats was huge. They ranged from modern, finely tuned fibreglass constructed boats all the way to copper stitched plywood boats, beautifully finished with varnished decks and painted hulls. Their red sails were instantly recognisable as they bobbed on the short chop. Next to launch were the 420’s, who skimmed their way out of the slip, to be joined by the 29er fleet a few minutes later.

The race committee dived straight into the first race, having set a trapezoid course for each fleet to complete. In a flurry of action, each fleet set off on separate starts to begin the first race.

The dinghies battled up the course, struggling through the high, short chop. While the Mirrors had a head start, the different fleets would eventually converge with each other due to speed differences. The 29ers put on an entertaining show, with wild high-speed capsizes and general hooliganism. While yachtsmen shudder at the thought of such bad seamanship as capsizing, the three fleets showed a whole new side of dinghy racing that was fast and furious, while also very entertaining to watch!

Three races were completed that day and the battered sailors returned to shore, fit to collapse. After each fleet had battled it out on the water for over five hours, the results were set. In the Mirror fleet, overnight leaders were Matthew Fallon with crew Jonathan Flannery. In the 420 fleet, Ben Graf and Alexander Farrell were overnight leaders, while in the 29ers it was James Dwyer and Chris Bateman.

Day two began with a clear sky and a strong feeling of early winter. The wind was down and the water was calm. The fleets launched much earlier than the previous day, with a start scheduled for 10:30 am. As they sailed out to the course the wind picked up to a fickle five knots. Conditions were light and shifty, which meant that decision making on the course was crucial. The 29er fleet started first, then came the 420’s and the Mirrors. After a course change and three long races, the sailors drifted home, in what was a huge contrast to the previous day’s racing.

The light winds gave everyone a chance to appreciate the lovely waters of Lough Ree, with its green shorelines and various dotted islands. A true sailing venue, worthy of adventurers and racing yachtsmen alike. The Lough Ree Yacht Club celebrates its 250th anniversary this year, and this is where the “Double Ree” finished up, with the prize-giving held outside its front door. In the Mirror fleet (also their westerns), 1st place went to Jessica Greer with crew Mark Greer. In 2nd was Matthew Fallon and Jonathan Flannery, while in 3rd was Luke Johnston and James Boyd.

A competitive start for the 420 fleet contesting its Connaught Championships as part of Double Ree RegattaA competitive start for the 420 fleet contesting its Connaught Championships as part of Double Ree Regatta

In the 420 fleet, it was Jack McDowell and crew Harry Thompson in 1st, with Ben Graf and Alexander Farrell in 2nd. In 3rd place was Harry Shackleton and Cara McDowell. (See also Afloat's 420 separate Double Ree report here - Web Ed)

A fine turnout of 29ers on Lough ReeA fine turnout of 29ers on Lough Ree 

In the 29er fleet, 1st place went to James Dwyer and Chris Bateman. In 2nd was Tim Norwood and Nathan van Steenberge, with Lauren McDowell and Erin Mcllwaine taking 3rd place. 

The LRYC pulled off what many said would be impossible, which was to run a successful national event in a carefully controlled manner. By doing this, they have managed to spread enjoyment and some relief among the dinghy racing community. There was no better place to do this than on a lake such as Lough Ree, and every competitor and family that travelled to the “Double Ree” is very grateful to the people that made it happen.

Published in Inland Waterways

"The seas is for sailing and the lakes are for fishing". Quite. It's a gross over-simplification to put any analysis of the Irish public perception of our use of waterways into such crude terms. But we didn't get where we are today by any highfalutin tendency towards subtlety in the popular optics of waterborne activity. Thus you mightn't be a million miles out in reckoning that Joe Public watches for any transgression of lockdown rules in the inevitably high profile saltwater sailing, but as a result, he and Mrs Joe have their backs turned on the lakes when they focus their critical attention.

Which is a pity, for not only does our high-quality lake racing deserve every bit as much interest as the seaborn version, but the leading lake clubs have been absolutely exemplary to the point of being national trailblazers in showing how to comply with the strictest regulations and still get great sport. And in so doing, they have provided our rather complex vehicle-based activity with a useful template of how to have "sport behind closed doors" within prescribed number limitations.

It has been an emotionally demanding task at Lough Ree Yacht Club, where incoming Commodore John McGonigle took over from Garrett Leech with the club's many good ideas for celebrating its Quarter Millennium in 2020 taking on a distinctly pared-back look, or indeed disappearing altogether as in the case of Garrett Leech's keenly-anticipated ClinkerFest for the long weekend as May became June.

Lough Ree Yacht Club is a renowned après-sail party venue, but even on its Quarter Millennium, it had to be very careful in maintaining social distancingLough Ree Yacht Club is a renowned après-sail party venue, but even on its Quarter Millennium, it had to be very careful in maintaining social distancing.

Ireland is a paradise in its variety of clinker-built boats. We have to thank the Vikings for that, even if their memory along the Shannon lakes is not something which is otherwise cherished. But as soon as the brilliant idea of the Clinkerfest was floated, it became a cherished ambition among clinkerfolk of all sorts to take part, and its total cancellation was an action of national significance in sailing, a matter of enormous regret, and a wake-up call – were it needed – of the enormity of the problems being faced.

It's at such junctures that the underlying strength of long-established organisations - structures which have survived and thrived through times good and bad - provide the fallback strength to continue whatever is possible. And of course down Shannon way, no-one would argue other than that that the 1920s vintage Shannon One Designs are the strong golden thread which holds it all together.

Shannon One Design Association Chairperson Erica Mulvihill and SODA Hon. Sec. Naomi Algeo racing with Rachel Guy on SOD 162. The women in charge – Shannon One Design Association Chairperson Erica Mulvihill and SODA Hon. Sec. Naomi Algeo racing with Rachel Guy on SOD 162.

To put it in another context, in Dublin Bay the 1884-founded Dublin Bay Sailing Club became the fallback point of reference in difficult times, while for offshore racers the newer Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association played a key role. So much so, in fact, that as 2020's pandemic took hold, an almost unreasonable pressure was put on DBSC Commodore Jonathan Nicholson, his Honorary Secretary Chris Moore and their other officers to make decisions and take actions on behalf of Dun Laoghaire enormous fleet, actions which would define how 2020's season would pan out.

The fact that a busy programme is now under way - with Thursday evenings in Dublin Bay, in particular, seeing keelboat turnouts which would be reckoned as a fine regatta fleet in other locations - speaks volumes of how successfully the DBSC people read the situation and called the shots, and in this they were greatly aided by DBSC's remarkable sense of continuity.

Dublin Bay Sailing Club racing. The DBSC experience of 136 years of organising races in the bay has given it an exceptional authority in over-seeing the resumption of sailingDublin Bay Sailing Club racing. The DBSC experience of 136 years of organising races in the bay has given it an exceptional authority in over-seeing the resumption of sailing. Phito: O'Brien

Meantime on the Shannon, while the two main clubs – Lough Ree YC at Ballyglass near Athlone in Westmeath dating back to 1770, and Lough Derg YC at Dromineer near Nenagh in Tipperary with its foundation in 1835 – have their own values and traditions with other classes involved. But nevertheless, they are greatly strengthened by the unifying link of the Shannon One Designs, which in turn reflects each club's strong core of family association and active involvement, handed down and faithfully upheld through many generations.

This confidence of a healthy river-long tradition with local applications has made the very firm imposition of the COVID regulations at the Shannon Regatta Weeks somehow seem less of an arduous duty than has been experienced at other clubs. Maybe this has something to do with the lifting of the spirits that comes for stressed East Coast folk as they approach the great river with its promise of soothing relaxation, but somehow even the strict enforcement of the 200-people limit for the Lough Ree Regatta in the first week of August - with all places taken up in less than a day after going online – was given a more human face when former LRYC Commodores Alan Algeo and Eileen Brown berthed their barges Linquenda and Rud Eile across on the Roscommon shore, thereby freeing up extra approved people-space in the LRYC compound.

SB20s saw a starring role played by young Ben Graf seen here helming Bango owned by Kevin Fenton (forward) with LRYC Commodore John McGonigle amidships Other classes featured in the LRYC 250th, and the SB20s saw a starring role played by young Ben Graf seen here helming Bango owned by Kevin Fenton (forward) with LRYC Commodore John McGonigle amidships. During 2020 Ben Graf has also starred in the Fireballs and the 420s at National level. Photo: Alex Hobbs

As for the racing, thanks to the efficient multi-tasking abilities of the Shannon One Design Association's Honorary Secretary Naomi Algeo and the steady encouragement of Class Chairperson Erica Mulvihill, a Class Newsletter was out in a timely manner after the last race at Lough Derg in mid-August. All the most effective classic classes in Ireland such as the SODs, the Water Wags, the Howth 17s, the Mermaids and even the Lasers – now that they've passed their Golden Jubilee – seem to communicate partially through some sort of telepathy which even WhatsApp can't supplant, thus something clearly delineated is enormously helpful to the outside world.

So we're going to quote shamelessly from this News Letter to give a flavour of how the Shannon sailors coped with both the pandemic restrictions and an increasingly volatile Atlantic weather pattern which in time was to combust itself in Storm Ellen, from which few had fully recovered before Storm Francis came along. But when those two beauties followed each other darkly over the hills, the Shannon One Design Championship 2020 was already decided.

Ian Croxon recounts the story for the Lough Ree Regatta:

Celebrating its 250th year, LRYC certainly proved they can still learn new tricks

After many months of lock-down lethargy, the sheer sound of a sail filling or water rushing off a bow would have been enough for most to call this regatta a week well spent. The organisers went a whole lot further in providing us with a remarkably enjoyable event.

There were no packed-out nights at the bar,
 no bellowing by the piano, and the rumour 
mills were fuelled with antics from the water rather than the shadows of the clubhouse. All the same, we got to experience the essentials - sailing, sociability – albeit distanced - and the serenity of the Shannon.

25 Shannon One Designs appeared for the long weekend and with little else to tempt them away, the vast majority remained for the week. For the records, 200 people was
 the cap set by the government for outdoor meets, and this was strictly adhered to by a very diligent committee. We were in for a regatta that produced a few new precedents, but not all were planned.

 Social-distance-compliant briefing at Lough Ree Yacht Club Social-distance-compliant briefing at Lough Ree YC. Photo: Naomi Algeo

No half measures at the Bar – Sean, the shepherd of thirsty sailors, outdid himself this year. Keeping everyone comfortable while constrained is no mean feat. Basil Fawlty would have eaten his hat observing the slick operation of dining every evening, with multiple sittings to ensure as many could get a seat at the table while we remained at a safe distance.

What's the code flag for 'lie-in'? – On Tuesday, many of the fleet were still in bed when they heard the happy news... "No sailing for the day, already decided." It was blowing smoke. The race officer's name was blessed over the eventual breakfast to follow.

A family feud – The top end of the fleet got a lot taller this year. On multiple occasions, it seemed the fleet was watching a feud for first between the two McMullin boats, 151 and 67. Needless to say not a word was whispered as they remained hot on each other's heels. Great Danes never tend to bark I suppose!

The SODs at Lough Ree experimented with windward-leeward coursesIn a Con Murphy innovation this year, the SODs at Lough Ree experimented with windward-leeward courses. They found that there were more place changes on the runs than on the beats. Photo: Con Murphy

Horses for Courses – Generously helping out
 on the committee boat, Con Murphy and Cathy Mac Aleavey joined Alan Algeo and the team for the first three days and brought with them a common course used in the Water Wags, a sausage with a gate at the leeward end. The shape has other names of course, but all the same, it is a rarity to experience a dead downwind in Shannon One Designs. In the suitable wind strengths we had, it proved hugely beneficial in keeping the fleet tighter together, and on several occasions, more places changed downwind than back up the following beat.

Ironically (against its intention) it also proved
 to result in considerably more chaos at the leeward roundings with death-defying angles 
of approach and crash gybes a-plenty.

Shannon One Designs get to grips with a lee gate"After you". "Oh no, after you…." The Shannon One Designs get to grips with a lee gate. Photo: Con Murphy

A sensational showdown – I'd welcome the correction from any reader on the point of stating this was the most competitive championship we have ever seen. Leading into the final race, four boats could have taken gold. They'll each agree however that remaining at the top of the fleet through the week was no mean feat. We had numerous race winners throughout the week and every race proved to be a game 
of snakes and ladders with a few wings being clipped, and several Lazarus recoveries.

Andrew Mannion in Number 97 came out tops, his crew including subsequent Irish Mirror National Champion Caolan Croasdell who did the Mirror business up in Sligo a week later as reported on, where for obvious reasons he acquired the nickname of "The Hat".

Andrew Mannion in 97, his crew including Irish Mirror National Champion 2020 Caolan Croasdell, was Shannon One Design Overall Champion at Lough Ree YC Quarter Millennial RegattaAndrew Mannion in 97, his crew including Irish Mirror National Champion 2020 Caolan Croasdell, was Shannon One Design Overall Champion at Lough Ree YC Quarter Millennial Regatta. Photo: Con Murphy


Having put in a determinedly-compliant event at Lough Ree, everyone knew that the complexities of the regulated transference of fleet operations downriver to Lough Derg would see some change in personnel, and though 25 Shannon One Designs raced at Lough Ree and 18 raced at Lough Derg (where general fleet numbers were made up by additional classes such as the Squibs), in all only five SODs managed to do both and thereby qualify for the Delany Memorial Salver.
Stephen Day take up the story of the Week at Dromineer:

Hot off the heels of a successful Lough Ree Annual Regatta, 18 Shannon One Designs turned up for a week's racing on the shores of Lough Derg, but unfortunately, on several occasions the wind did not make it to Dromineer.

Patrick Blaney obliged as PRO, but he and his team had their work cut out all week.
 Where Lough Ree had a stop-everything gale on the Tuesday, a week later we were held ashore by calm for the morning, and despite best efforts to race in the afternoon, we couldn't.

Lough Derg Yacht Club at Dromineer has its origins in 1835Lough Derg Yacht Club at Dromineer has its origins in 1835

Instead, we
 were distracted by the LDYC
 Commodore Joe Gilmartin water-skiing past the sitting
 SODs, and sailing turned into a lazy afternoon of swimming and socialising on the lake.
 On Wednesday every effort was made to sail the famous Belle Isle Plate and St. David's Cup, but they were not to be, sailing was called off for the day, and this time Alan Algeo, who has served two terms as Commodore of LRYC, got suited and booted and went water-skiing for the first time in 15 years. He certainly hasn't lost his balance and only had one fall.

While Alan was entertaining 
us all, the single-handed race was taking place. Johnny Horgan in the 167 was leading from the first windward mark right through to the finish, having gone back through the starting line, but was closely followed by Rachel Guy in 142 and Simone Hanley in the 118.

Driftathon for Squibs at Lough Derg YCDriftathon for Squibs at Lough Derg YC Photo: Oisin Higgins

The all important Juvenile Race followed, where under 16s take charge of our classic boats. With the breeze dying and a wind shift to boot, it
was a fetch home. Oscar Flynn in the 148 was triumphant, with Eoin Keogh in 142 second and Trevor Bolger in 164 third.

As the forecast had promised, Thursday morning had a gentle breeze on the lake, much to the PRO's delight. With two races in the morning Frank Guy in the 142 was in the groove taking both bullets, followed by Alan Algeo in 138. 

That afternoon Ian Croxon laid out the course 
for the Ted Croxon Perpetual Pint. Due to the weather he had to keep it short and sweet, but Laurence Hanley in the 118 had a dream running start and could not be caught, even though Alex Leech and Mary Cox kept him 
on his toes, with both finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Laurence Hanley in the 118 took one more race on Friday, with Alex Leech in the 164 getting a much deserved bullet (by a country mile, too) in the final championship race of the week. Alex also took home the Milligan Cup – for the youngest helm of the week at just sixteen. You can sail a Shannon One Design before you can drive a car, but a car is definitely easier. Johnny Horgan in 167 rounded off 
the week with a winning finish through Goose Island in the '54' Perpetual Cup and Lifeboat Pennant – the latter which was awarded to the girls in the 144.

Frank Guy leads the Shannon ODs at Dromineer – he went on to wind the LDYC Regatta 2020 overall.Frank Guy leads the Shannon ODs at Dromineer – he went on to wind the LDYC Regatta 2020 overall. Photo: Oisin Higgins

The overall LDYC Championship was very close with Alex Leech finishing a very impressive 3rd in
 164, Alan Algeo was 2nd in the 138 and 
Frank Guy in the 142 taking home the Perpetual Challenge Cup. Frank's crew Rachel Guy and Laura Prentice were both deserving winners
 of the Bruce Plaque and McNally Knot. The Starters Gun went to Alan Algeo in the 138, with Frank Guy in the 142 2nd, and Johnny Horgan in the 167 in 3rd.

However, Johnny Horgan's dogged determination to do both Lough Ree and Lough Derg while complying with restrictions was rewarded, as 167 was one of the five boats which managed to qualify for the Delany Memorial Salver and he won it, with second place going to DJ and Alan Algeo in 138 while Laurence Hanley was third and the youngest helm in the entire SOD fleet, Alex Leech, was fourth.

Shannon One Designs racing on Lough Derg as they have raced for more than 90 yearsShannon One Designs racing on Lough Derg as they have raced for more than 90 years. 138 with Stephen Day, Daragh O'Brien and Tom Day comes to the mark. Photo: Oisinn Higgins

In spite of the foregoing few months when there had been a real uncertainty as to whether the event could even take place, LDYC deserved special credit for organising a week's sailing which managed to overcome the shortage of wind. And though Autumn is now increasingly in evidence, it is hoped that experience gained in staging successful regatta weeks at both Ballyglass and Dromineer will enable the Shannon One Designs and other classes on the lakes to get in some more meaningful sailing before winter closes in. And perhaps Lough Ree and Lough Derg will be an inspiration to other centres where some clubs have buckled in face of the challenge of providing total compliance.

evening breeze at Dromineer for the single-handed race If we move, we race – evening breeze at Dromineer for the single-handed race, won by Johnny Horgan who also won the Delany Memorial Salver.

Published in W M Nixon

The second oldest yacht club in the world, Lough Ree Athlone, has cancelled a major event planned for the celebrations of its 250th year writes Tom MacSweeney.

The Club's Commodore, Garrett Leech, said that Clinkerfest, planned for three days over the Whit Bank Holiday Weekend, May 30-June 1, intended to be "a celebration of racing clinker-built boats," which it had been hoped would attract over 100 boats to Lough Ree for competitive racing, would not go ahead.

Shannon One Designs, Water Wags, Mermaids, IDRA14s and International 12s had indicated their attendance.

"We have no choice but to cancel this year," said Commodore Leech. "We intend to run next year. The interest was large in the event, very healthy.

We had well over 50 entered with 6 weeks to go, we will break the 100 boats. We had SODs, Wags, Mermaids, IDRA's and a large fleet of International 12's and also three Coleens entered. We had the Myths & Rankins thinking too.

"I think that we will get an even bigger fleet next year as it had garnered some momentum but naturally I am disappointed," he told Afloat.

The dates for the 2021 Clinkerfest are June 5-7.

Published in Historic Boats
Tagged under

There is enormous interest in the revival of the International 12 Foot Dinghy Class both in Ireland and abroad, in advance of the 250th centenary regatta at Athlone Yacht Club/ Lough Ree Yacht Club at the end of May 2020.

In Cork Harbour, John Murphy and Tom Kirby are renovating Caubeen which was once owned by Captain Jimmy Payne of Royal Munster Yacht Club. It was Caubeen which won the Dinghy World Championships for Ireland in 1924 against Mr Watney of England, Mr Bokre of The Netherlands, and Mr Van Haltern of Belgium. After the programme of races was complete, Bokre and Payne were still on equal points. In the sail-off, Payne and Caubeen won by 29 seconds. Caubeen was probably built in 1923 by James Pluck of Cobh, as one of fifteen dinghies built for £47 2s. 6d. each. In addition to the renovation, a new sail has been ordered for Caubeen from Germany, which should ensure that she is able to compete with the best. Also in Cork, we understand that a Co. Cork boatbuilder has received an order to build a new 12-foot dinghy from scratch in time for the event.

"a Co. Cork boatbuilder has received an order to build a new 12-foot dinghy from scratch in time for the event"

In Dublin, plans are well progressed for the relaunch of Elf which was built in 1931 for a Howth Sailing Club owner and spent much of her racing life in Dublin Bay
In Tralee, 1944 built Sgadan, has been stripped down to her bare timbers and will be varnished ready to defend the Irish Championship which she won in 2018. She also won most of the championships between 1960 and 1970 in the hands of Keith Collie. The Dun Laoghaire and Sutton based boats, Pixie, Albany, Calypso and Dorado which competed in the 2019 Championship are all planning to compete in Lough Ree.

nterantional 12sAt the regatta there Dublin Bay 12 foot dinghy with mainsail and jib and the International rig with a single sail will race against each other.

In Germany, Reinhard Schroeder has encouraged up to four boats to take the long journey including two ferries and to compete at Athlone. This is the first time ever that German 12 Foot Dinghies have come to Ireland to compete against Irish boats in a major regatta.

Also in Uganda, Bert Hemminga is preparing a 12-foot dinghy, probably No 112 Anneke from 1924 in which he won the Bosham(UK) Classic Boat Regatta in 2019. She will be ready for the Athlone Clinkerfest.

In the Netherlands, there are up to 8 boats including Pieter Bleeker of V.W.D.T.P. being prepared for their very first 250th centenary regatta.

Wisely the Canadian, Nicolette Aronldus of Soilspring Sailing Club, already has her 1944 built dinghy Albatros in Europe and is getting ready for racing.

Another visitor from abroad has already been delivered to Ireland, she is the beautiful Scythian from Australia.

Caubeen 4The bow section of the 1924-built Caubeen showing original brass fittings

Despite Brexit, all the known English boats currently in commission including Doug Branson from Bosham Sailing Club, Colin Blewett from Poole Yacht Club, Margaret Delany and Gerry Murray will be travelling to Athlone to compete.

At the regatta there Dublin Bay 12 foot dinghy with mainsail and jib and the International rig with a single sail will race against each other. Lough Ree Yacht Club Clinkerfest promises to be a great party!

Published in Historic Boats

In 2020 Lough Ree Yacht Club will celebrate its 250th anniversary or it’s Sestercentennial celebration, apparently a recently devised Latin expression for same. Lough Ree Yacht Club is located at Ballyglass, Coosan, Athlone. Organised boating events on Lough Ree have been documented as far back as 1731, these events were initially organised from the local Garrison in Athlone and were thought to have been cruising but in a military or more accurately, Naval manner. It was not until 1770 that the first formal regatta occurred, initially under the auspice of Athlone Yacht Club and in 1895, the Club was renamed Lough Ree Yacht Club.

Organised racing soon became a regular occurrence on Lough Ree, it was initially an ascendancy activity and racing took place in Half Raters. Whilst these were beautiful craft, they were expensive and were not one design. The need for a competitive and less expensive dinghy resulted in the Shannon-One-Design designed by Morgan Giles and introduced to the Club in 1922, the Club has never looked back.

As part of the celebratory year, the club has a busy schedule planned, in particular, the Annual Regatta which is a weeklong event is to be embellished and will include a Civic Reception and Gala Dinner in the Town of Athlone. Sometimes, particularly for rural Clubs, the populated areas need a reminder that sailing is taking place close by, even though the Club has been in existence for such a long time!

The Club, which has a reputation for its warm welcome and hospitality, has also planned two flagship events which it hopes will attract external sailors to help the Club celebrate the event; after the success of the junior double-handed event, Double Ree in 2018, the Club proposes running this again in 2020. The previous event attracted almost 60 boats and 115 junior sailors to the sunny shores of Lough Ree for a fun-filled weekend which also included competitive racing! The Electric Picnic of sailing events in Ireland. The final date in July 2020 for this event is still to be confirmed, so more to follow.

SOD LRYCShannon One Design dinghies racing on Lough Ree Photo: Niall Smyth

Given that the mainstay of the Club is the Shannon-One-Design, the second external event is to feature the SOD. Clinkerfest will take place over 3 days during the Whit bank holiday weekend 2020 (30th May – 1st June). The event is what it purports to be, a celebration of racing clinker built boats. It is hoped to attract over 100 boats to Lough Ree for competitive racing and plenty of fun. To-date there is a commitment from SODs, Water Wags, Mermaids, IDRA14’s and International 12’s, there is also growing interest from several other fleets who have yet to commit.

LRYC Commodore, Garrett Leech said, “Some of the largest one-design dingy racing fleets in the Country are wooden built clinker boats, there is sometimes a view that these are classic boats and not really competitive racing fleets, this could not be further from the truth!”

The main premise behind the event is to showcase the vibrancy of these various fleets, to suppress the classic boat label and to demonstrate to the sailing community that these are current and competitively active fleets. Where possible, any Regional events that the fleets might have will be worked into the Regatta. Again, more to follow.

Published in Inland Waterways
Tagged under

The Irish Sailing Cruising Conference heads inland this year so that sailors from around the country can join each other for a day of speakers, presentations, storytellers and a social lunch. Lough Ree Yacht Club is known for their warm welcome and excellent facilities and will be hosting the conference on Saturday 16th February, 11 am to 5 pm.

As previously reported by last month, there is a fascinating line up of inspiring speakers, all professionals in their field and keen to share a story and pass on some advice. Tickets are available directly on Eventbrite here

Taking care of our oceans and waterways is an international concern and has a direct impact on our sport and lifestyle. Round the world ocean sailor and 11th Hour Racing Sustainability Manager in the 2018 Volvo Ocean Race, Damian Foxall, will give an insight into sustainability and the changes Volvo Ocean Race made. And to compliment Damian, Niall Hatch of Bird Watch Ireland will be discussing the lives of our incredible range of coastal birds and giving tips on identification at sea. 

"Niall Hatch of Bird Watch Ireland will give tips on identification at sea"

Ocean going sailors will be intrigued by the story of Paul Scannell and Mary Healy’s cruise round Ireland (very carefully!) in a 41-year-old inland waterways vessel. We all know how lumpy it can get out on the west and north west coast and these guys really know how to read weather charts and go when the going is good. “It is all about the prep and good crew.” says Paul.

Man over board is always a big concern and when one of Kylie McMillan’s fellow crew members fell overboard at night while racing round Ireland, the importance of having a plan and good training probably saved a life. Following requests from last year, Technical Crew Manager Keith Devaney and Chief Crewman Benny Meehan will be presenting on how to manage a helicopter lift. 

Vera Quinlan is preparing to sail the Atlantic circuit with her two children under 12 and will be sharing a vlog on the work involved. Battery management is a big issue in this age of numerous tablets, phones and electronic equipment on board, so Toni of Union Chandlery will give everyone some advice on battery management on-board. And Norman Kean will bring everyone up to date with the most recent developments in leisure craft diesel and the impact it has on coastal sailing.

The continued support of sponsors Union Chandlery make this event possible and chandlery specialist Toni O'Leary will be on hand to give personal advice all day. Lunch, teas and coffees are included in the conference ticket, plus every attendee will enter a draw to win a Standard Horizon HX300E Handheld VHF from Union Chandlery. Kilrush Marina are also supporting the event this year and one lucky attendee will win a week’s marina berthage and sling wash, PLUS 4 attendees can win a night in their fantastic floating pods. And as always Irish Cruising Club Publications will also be offering a few free copies of their cruising guides

Tickets for Members are at a cost of €25 and non-members €30 (plus booking fee).

You can contact Gail MacAllister directly if you have any questions about the event on [email protected]

Published in Cruising

Irish Sailing’s annual Cruising Conference is headed inland in 2019, with Lough Ree Yacht Club hosting the day-long event on Saturday 16 February.

Speakers and presenters confirmed for the day include Paul Scannell and Mary Healy, who cruised round Ireland in a 41-year-old inland waterways vessel.

The Irish Coast Guard will explain the ins and outs of a helicopter lift, while Kylie McMillan will share her experience of a man overboard scenario at night and the importance of having a plan and training for such critical situations.

Norman Kean will talk the future of diesel for leisure craft, and Damian Foxall will discuss sustainability and the changes made for the most recent Volvo Ocean Race.

Niall Hatch of BirdWatch Ireland will give a presentation on the lives of coastal birds and how to identify them, and the gathering will see Vera Quinlan’s vlog on preparing to sail the Atlantic circuit with children under 12.

Battery management onboard is the topic for Toni O’Leary of Union Chandlery, which is sponsoring the event and provides a Standard Horizon HX300E handheld VHF for a prize draw on the day.

Kilrush Marina is also supporting the 2019 conference and one lucky attendee will win a week’s marina berthage and sling wash, while four could win a night in the marina’s floating pods.

Tickets for the 2019 Irish Sailing Cruising Conference are €27.55– €32.88 available from Eventbrite€27.55– €32.88 available from Eventbrite.

Published in Cruising

The J/24 Association of Ireland has announced the calendar for its regional and national championships in 2019.

Lough Ree Yacht Club will host the class for its Westerns in the first big event of the year on the weekend of 13-14 April — the week before Easter.

The following month the fleet moves to Tralee Bay Sailimg Club for the Southerns on 25-26 May.

Howth Yacht Club will host the Eastern Championship on 15-16 June, and the Nationals on 23-25 August will be sailing out of Lough Erne Yacht Club.

Published in J24

Hello and welcome to my weekly Podcast …. Tom MacSweeney here ….

That the Royal Cork at Crosshaven is the oldest yacht club in the world is well-known, even if there are some elements who have challenged, though unsuccessfully, that claim… Perhaps not so well-known is that Ireland has, not one, but the two oldest yacht clubs in the world.

Lough Ree Yacht Club lays claim to being the second oldest.

It has other interesting historical sailing associations. It is one of two clubs on the Shannon where brothers are Commodores at the same time. And their mother was the second woman in the world to become a Club Commodore. That is a lot of sailing commitment in one family.

Lough Ree, in a comparison to the initial formative years to which the RCYC traces its history, has its early days also in formation sailing. This was carried out by Naval personnel in Cork Harbour for the RCYC’s history – By military men on Lough Ree for the formative days to which the Athlone club traces its history.

Lough Ree YC held the All-Ireland Helmsman’s Championships a fortnight ago and has a particular interest in promoting sailing in which more than one person is involved in a boat. While they do have solo sailing, their penchant is to encourage increased participation in the sport.

All of this is outlined by Lough Ree Yacht Club Commodore, Garrett Leech, in this week’s Podcast.

It was a cold, wet day, just after Storm Callum had passed through when I drove the winding roads from Athlone to Lough Ree Yacht Club, to hear more about what the second oldest yacht club in the world is doing to promote the sport and was welcomed to their impressive building by Commodore Garrett Leech:


Published in Tom MacSweeney
Tagged under

#YouthSailing - Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 July are the dates to save for the inaugural Double Ree Regatta at Lough Ree Yacht Club.

The four biggest two-handed youth classes will be competing in their respective regional championships at next month’s inaugural event in Athlone, developed as an alternative to the usual focus on single-handed boats.

The Mirror Western Championship, RS Feva Inland Championship, 420 Connacht Championship and 29er Triple Crown will all be decided at Ireland’s largest youth double-handed regatta — and one that Lough Ree YC promises to be ‘an extravaganza of spinnaker-flying racing’.

The Double Ree concept has developed as an alternative to the usual post-Optimist paths of the Topper and Laser 4.7, says Lough Ree Yacht Club Commodore Garrett Leech.

Double-handed dinghies make an apt choice for many younger sailors, who may not be comfortable helming a larger vessel or may not enjoy sailing alone, among other reasons.

Double-handers like the Mirror also encourage the development of more rounded skill sets, Leech says.

“At Lough Ree Yacht Club, nearly all kids, even those who sail Optimist on the circuit, will also learn to sail in a double-handed dinghy, be this a Mirror or Feva, even Shannon One Designs.”

Getting younger sailors interested in two-handed sailing has also arrested a decline in classes that may be overlooked by those more focused on the high-performance pathway.

With various two-handed classes to move into, the question for Lough Ree was which to embrace.

“Some of our kids started to want more speed and excitement so have moved into 420s,” Leech says. “We sat and watched the development of the 29er fleet here in Ireland, and debated about the introduction of yet another class and what impact it might have on double-handed sailing nationally.

“We soon came to the conclusion that we should embrace all of these racing fleets — and hope that there would be no more introduced anytime soon.”

Leech gives credit to his Vice Commodore John McGonigle for developing the Double Ree concept, with input from Gail MacAllister of Irish Sailing.

“We hark back to days of old — when we hear about Dinghy Week in Dun Laoghaire from some of our older members, when there were huge numbers of dinghies competing in Dublin Bay.”

“So we are setting out to create an event that will pull all competitive double-handers to one location. We hope that that the various fleets will come to appreciate the merits of each other’s fleets.”

Holistically, the Double Ree event is also about “pulling families together in a fun environment”. But Leech is clear that attracting competitive youth sailors is a key goal.

Camping and mooring facilities are available at the Athlone venue, with a barbecue to welcome competitors and their families on Friday 20 July, as well as a club dinner on the Saturday evening.

For more details about the event, including details on booking a place, see the Lough Ree YC website and the event page on Facebook.

Published in Youth Sailing
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